Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • plainandsimple
    • By plainandsimple 29th Sep 16, 9:18 AM
    • 31Posts
    • 144Thanks
    plainandsimple
    How Much Do You Budget For Groceries?
    • #1
    • 29th Sep 16, 9:18 AM
    How Much Do You Budget For Groceries? 29th Sep 16 at 9:18 AM
    Looking for some guidance, please. I'd like to find out what other households budget for and spend on groceries and household items each month. For the last 8 months or so we've been going over budget.

    We've not increased our food budget for a few years, and I really don't know if we're not budgeting enough or if there's another problem with it. I know food costs have risen, but I cook all our meals from scratch (we perhaps buy something processed like a pizza a couple of times a year).

    I grew up in a thrifty house and can turn about anything into a meal. I make my own stock and know how to stretch a chicken. We eat a lot of homemade soups and stews. I've never thought our per meal costs are expensive, and we only eat meat once or twice a week. We eat lots of pulses and veg and it's usually porridge for breakfast. My husband takes a packed lunch to work every day. I work at home and look after our son, so we eat lunch at home. Our lunch is leftovers or a sandwich.

    Our household is me, my husband and our 12 month old. We budget £200 per month and that's for food, toiletries and cleaning products. I use one cleaning product for everything. So, is our budget too low or should I be able to make that work? What do you spend for your household and what types of meals do you make?



    If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply!
    This Forum tip was included in MoneySavingExpert.com's weekly email!
    Last edited by MSE Jessica; 11-10-2016 at 2:23 PM.
Page 4
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 15th Oct 16, 5:16 PM
    • 9,509 Posts
    • 21,163 Thanks
    suki1964
    Economising on proper food intake also means economising on health. We need a variety of minerals and vitamins to be in good mental and physical health. Without that we can't work well and we need to generate an income....for rather longer these days!
    Originally posted by Healthinmind

    I can still eat a balanced diet on my budget

    We eat home grown veg, free ranged eggs, lots of oily fish, chicken, offal , small amounts of processed meats such as ham and sausages. We use whole milk and proper butter

    I know I personally could do better, I don't like fruit so the only fruit I eat are frozen berries in my yoghurt and I drink a glass of orange juice a day, but there is always fruit in the house for DH and grandkids ( more when they stop)

    So what is it you are calling proper food?
    Last edited by suki1964; 15-10-2016 at 6:08 PM.
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • determined new ms
    • By determined new ms 15th Oct 16, 6:04 PM
    • 5,561 Posts
    • 29,497 Thanks
    determined new ms
    I agree suki I spend a lot of time to ensure we are getting enough protein in our diet and have at least the minimum dietary recommendation, we eat loads of fruit and veg, no processed food. My curried lentil, parsnip & apple soup cost 11p a portion, hm bread rolls again cost pence, I always have lots of fruit for snacks at work as if I get hungry it really messes me up I'm a slave to my stomach. So my lunch which is much healthier than a lot of my colleagues, I know exactly what has gone into it (only good stuff) and it costs me less than 50p a day
    Debt to Bank of oh Mum: £4200/£5700
    Wombling 2016 £263.42 Roadkill £27.21
    • Healthinmind
    • By Healthinmind 15th Oct 16, 7:29 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 9 Thanks
    Healthinmind
    I was concerned reading about some people talking of cheap baked beans and £1 tescos pizza. This is not nutritious, and for me would not mean a good way to reduce spending. I am glad to know it is possible to budget and eat fresh food, I just don't seem to be managing it! Sadly we do have to buy everything we eat, so no yummy home grown veg for us . This is really a useful conversation thread, helping me consider things....I have been raising the topic with my friends and it is very interesting how we are so different in our approach.
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 15th Oct 16, 8:17 PM
    • 6,342 Posts
    • 35,086 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    I was concerned reading about some people talking of cheap baked beans and £1 tescos pizza. This is not nutritious, and for me would not mean a good way to reduce spending. I am glad to know it is possible to budget and eat fresh food, I just don't seem to be managing it! Sadly we do have to buy everything we eat, so no yummy home grown veg for us . This is really a useful conversation thread, helping me consider things....I have been raising the topic with my friends and it is very interesting how we are so different in our approach.
    Originally posted by Healthinmind
    But you see, both of those things can have their place. Bakes beans are eaten very occasionally in this house - occasionally enough that I'll quite happily buy mid-range ones, Branston are favourites, Tesco own label if Branston can't be found on offer. Of course they're high in sugar - everyone knows that, but they are also high in fibre, and a good source of protein, as well as certain important vitamins. As for that "Tesco £1 pizza" - Pizza can be a great way of sneaking vegetables into small children, and it;'s dead easy to add things to a bought pizza for a more nutritious meal!

    It's very easy to make the assumption that because someone is spending more on their food, that means they are somehow eating better than someone who's spending half the money, or less. It can be foolish to think that way though as really it comes down entirely to what the money is being spent on. Our sub £150p/m budget leqaves us eating a lot more healthily than many who spend a substantial amount more, but spend that additional amount buying processed foods, ready meals, and high quantities of alcohol.
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    • amateur house
    • By amateur house 15th Oct 16, 9:17 PM
    • 76 Posts
    • 66 Thanks
    amateur house
    £100 per adult (and lets be fair those 20 year olds eat like animals!!!) doesn't seem unreasonable! Have you tried the OS board here for ideas on bulk cooking when it's for that many people? Does it include cleaning and toiletries?
    Originally posted by MrsTinks
    No, I've not seen that but will have a look. Yes, the £500 includes everything, and we even manage a takeaway once in a while. You are right about the amount they eat though, it must be about twice the amount I eat myself!
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 15th Oct 16, 9:20 PM
    • 9,509 Posts
    • 21,163 Thanks
    suki1964
    I was concerned reading about some people talking of cheap baked beans and £1 tescos pizza. This is not nutritious, and for me would not mean a good way to reduce spending. I am glad to know it is possible to budget and eat fresh food, I just don't seem to be managing it! Sadly we do have to buy everything we eat, so no yummy home grown veg for us . This is really a useful conversation thread, helping me consider things....I have been raising the topic with my friends and it is very interesting how we are so different in our approach.
    Originally posted by Healthinmind

    Indeed, if a family was eating pizza and baked beans daily, there's a problem

    I do eat baked beans, I also eat pizza

    Baked beans are full of protein. Ok they CAN be high salt and sugar, but incorporated into a healthy varied diet, they are not a problem

    Same as pizza. Now I'm the first to admit I'm spoiled and DH built me a pizza oven. Since I've that built I would never eat a shop bought one again. However I do sometimes buy bases from lidl. A smear of passata, a few chunks of mozzarella , onions, peppers, tomato and basil, you have a perfectly good meal I also add anchovies and olives for the added nutirents. Some would add artichoke hearts, eggs, green veg. Thing is pizza isn't 'bad' it's how you load it that can cause problems Both the Italians and the Turks eat extremely thin crust pizza with very little ( if any) cheese They don't have the heart problems we suffer. A lot of people on a budget buy the cheapo pizza and add the toppings of their choice. Is that a bad choice? I wouldn't say so, it's a better choice then a dominos triple decker with extra cheese


    Proper food as I see it is as close to the raw as possible. Hence I eat butter and drink full fat milk. I also know how to cook and so am less reliant on processed meats.

    Proper food doesn't need to be expensive. We often have steak and wild salmon, fresh mackerel, etc. What I've learned is how to stretch what we have. I couldn't eat an 8oz steak in a resturaunt ( seriously I couldn't ) so I will buy two steaks for the three of us to eat at home. Even one good quality steak I can stretch to three, slicing thin , stir frying with veg, mixing into a sauce, piling on to a ciabatta, serving with a salad - good proper healthy food served cheaply.


    it really is easy to eat healthily on a reduced budget. Takes some cooking skills, takes some time ( yes I spend an hour at least in the kitchen a day ) and you need to think outside the box

    Please don't think us on small budgets are eating carp 24/7. We aren't
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • ViolaLass
    • By ViolaLass 15th Oct 16, 9:28 PM
    • 4,726 Posts
    • 6,480 Thanks
    ViolaLass
    I wouldn't be happy with our budget if I thought it meant we were not feeding ourselves and our baby well. As it is, she eats loads of varied fruit and veg.

    I find bulk buying helps (when there's an offer on the pasta we like, I'll empty the shelves) as does frozen veg because it reduces waste. If we have fresh veg going off, I'll make a soup or risotto.

    Costco can be good too. Excellent sausages, for example.
    • omendata
    • By omendata 16th Oct 16, 1:47 AM
    • 45 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    omendata
    Unemployed more savings needed
    Since losing my job due to a cancer scare 2 years ago and not being able to find another due to my age, i have had to optimise my shopping , spending and bills.

    I have found that Thursday approximately 7pm onward at my local Asda the best bargains are to be had; from Loaves at 10p to main meals at 25p - some items even reach 1p, my monthly shopping has gone from £150 to £30 or even less!!!

    I often hear people say that its too expensive to cook from scratch or eat healthily but i seem to manage quite well especially as Asda has mounds of fresh fruit and vegetables nearing their sell by date for on average 10p for anything at the witching hour before closing. Stick it all in the blender and make a nice smoothie or mix it into a nice curry - not that hard , i think people these days are just fat , lazy and stupid in general and want everything done for them!

    I dont even rely on benefits as I am currently not signing on the Job centre but existing on my savings so if i can make do and eat healthily , exercise and keep myself fit , I find it maddening when i see those people on benefits saying they cannot survive on £600 a month - if they gave up their £7 packs of fags every day and tried to live within their means I am sure they wouldnt be moaning!

    I wonder if anyone can beat that other than dumpster diving which I have considered but couldnt get access to the actual bins!
    Last edited by omendata; 16-10-2016 at 1:54 AM.
    • Healthinmind
    • By Healthinmind 16th Oct 16, 9:46 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 9 Thanks
    Healthinmind
    Hi don't be mad! I didn't mean to offend or criticise, things are hard and I am trying to be healthy as cheaply as possible, like you guys. I am on here to get ideas, not to criticise or be criticised...we all have to do what we can with the shops around us and within our physical limits ( I can't always cook due to my condition, so the ready meals help with that, and I am unable to travel to shop at lidles or aldi). I include our entertainment stuff ( the wine for weekends with friends) in our food budget, so I know exactly what is going out. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    • Healthinmind
    • By Healthinmind 16th Oct 16, 10:11 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 9 Thanks
    Healthinmind
    Since losing my job due to a cancer scare 2 years ago and not being able to find another due to my age, i have had to optimise my shopping , spending and bills.

    I have found that Thursday approximately 7pm onward at my local Asda the best bargains are to be had; from Loaves at 10p to main meals at 25p - some items even reach 1p, my monthly shopping has gone from £150 to £30 or even less!!!

    I often hear people say that its too expensive to cook from scratch or eat healthily but i seem to manage quite well especially as Asda has mounds of fresh fruit and vegetables nearing their sell by date for on average 10p for anything at the witching hour before closing. Stick it all in the blender and make a nice smoothie or mix it into a nice curry - not that hard , i think people these days are just fat , lazy and stupid in general and want everything done for them!

    I dont even rely on benefits as I am currently not signing on the Job centre but existing on my savings so if i can make do and eat healthily , exercise and keep myself fit , I find it maddening when i see those people on benefits saying they cannot survive on £600 a month - if they gave up their £7 packs of fags every day and tried to live within their means I am sure they wouldnt be moaning!

    I wonder if anyone can beat that other than dumpster diving which I have considered but couldnt get access to the actual bins!
    Originally posted by omendata
    Hi omendata, sorry for your situation, and thanks for sharing your savings tips. Wishing you good luck..
    • Coffeekup
    • By Coffeekup 16th Oct 16, 2:14 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 11 Thanks
    Coffeekup
    I'll pip in with our story. 3 years ago me and my partner was spending about £120-180 a week on 2 adults and a 5 year old (at the time). I know this because we kept the receipts for 3 months and added them to a spread sheet. Within a weeks I saw where we could save money and set a limit if £100 per week. Then managed over the next few weeks to get it down to £60 p/w.

    Waste
    I later added in the spreadsheet columns for what we wasted, most of which was fruit, veg and salad foods. Some weeks we threw in the bin £15 looking back it seems ridiculous. We stopped buying biscuits and packs of readymade cakes, which may turn some noses up but it helped us loose weight too as no late night pickings.

    We used to eat a chicken breast each for some meals (apart from the little one), we now have half a breast each and the DD has what's marketed nowadays as the "fillet" of the breast. Also smaller portions sizes for us adult's helped as back then we were eating big plates, and was wasting food as had cooked too much.

    Planning
    The other big thing that helped us save was putting £60 in a jar just for food, toiletries and cleaning stuff. Instead of us going shopping on separate occasions and then shopping with our own money we took the cash from the jar bought what we needed and put the change back in. 3 years on its still going strong.

    We tried writing a planner, which did help to bring down the weekly cost, but could it got boring and after a while as we started to know where we was spending too much anyhow.

    We stopped buying multi buy offers as that pushed us over our budget, at the end of the day if you don't have the cash there you can't spend it right? The multi buy offer didn't help with waste too.

    Obvious one here look out for offers, the amount of people I see at the tills with say a 500g tub of margarine for £2 and the 1kg version is the same price or a few pence more, pains me to see.

    Where you shop..... I walk from wilko's to b&m, poundland, iceland, savers to home bargains. What I can't get from these shops I'll then go to a supermarket and grab the rest I.e. fruit and veg.

    We buy meat from the butchers as its far cheaper than supermarket, 5kg of chicken breast is £20 which works out at 22-26 pieces then all gets put in separate freezer bags in the freezer.
    You ask how can that £25 come out of one weeks money? Well our shops work out at £50-55 a week and every few weeks we have £40-60 still in the jar by the time we add another £60.


    DIY
    We eat extremely well these days everything is home made/cooked. Home made bolognaise costs £5 and will feed 3 of us for 2 days with enough left over to make a chilli from on the 3rd day. To make it into a chilli costs 50p. Excluding rice and pasta that's £2 a day for the sauce or 70p per person. But the jar's of sauce work out at £1.50-2 last time I looked and IMHO there not as tasty.

    We rerely eat take always (2-3 times a year) and when we do were usually left disappointed a lot of the time as we can make better on these days.

    The only frozen products we buy are peas, mkain French fries and ice creams(in the summer).

    For us the hardest months are the summer, with all the salads, wraps etc we eat the £60 a week is stretched. Autumn/winter and early spring, having soups, sauces (I.e. the bolognaise) even roast dinners don't cost as much as salads in the summer.
    .
    Is their a right amound to spend? I think it all depends on you, your family size, where you live, how much effort you want to put in, how well you want to eat and how much you want to spend or how much you want to save/reduce the out goings.
    • determined new ms
    • By determined new ms 16th Oct 16, 5:41 PM
    • 5,561 Posts
    • 29,497 Thanks
    determined new ms
    love this post Coffeekup (and your addie!) just wanted to say do you know wraps are the simplest things to make and cost pence! I usually make up a batch of 40 and then freeze in batches of 6

    Also can you grow some of the salad stuff? Cut and come again salad leaves are really easy to grow. Sow a few seeds every 2 weeks and you won't need to buy any lettuce, tomatoes & radishes simple. Lots of ppl say cucumbers are easy but I never have any real success with them
    Debt to Bank of oh Mum: £4200/£5700
    Wombling 2016 £263.42 Roadkill £27.21
    • muhandis
    • By muhandis 16th Oct 16, 5:54 PM
    • 221 Posts
    • 82 Thanks
    muhandis
    Family of three - myself, husband and my mum living in NE London. We don't keep a budget but I meticulously note all expenditure in a categorised spreadsheet.

    Sep-225, Aug-197, July-180

    We buy a lot of fresh 'exotic' veggies from the local Asian store and their prices have shot up over the past couple of months because of the falling pound

    It's a pity, I love experimenting with the different kinds of vegetables they stock, but will have to start switching some of my shopping to the local Lidl soon to bring spending back in the 180-200 range.
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 16th Oct 16, 8:22 PM
    • 9,509 Posts
    • 21,163 Thanks
    suki1964
    coffeekup. See that's how I spend. This week I went to the chicken processing plant and for £7 I got, 2 trays of 6 chicken thighs , 2 huge trays of thighs and drumsticks and 3 chicken breast joints

    Add to that I had a £30 spend in tesco this week ( needed stuff lidl don't stock) and it looks like I'm over budget. Only thing is, all that chicken will be at least one ( if not two) meals a week


    That's why I always say my average is £30. Some weeks I pay more, some weeks a lot less. If the chicken factory had as they often do, 4 crooks for a £1, I would have gone way over budget and fill the freezers because I know I'd have less to buy for the coming weeks/months

    As long as I have my protein base at a price I'm willing to pay, rest of my grocery bill is peanuts


    I'm still kicking myself because in tesco yesterday they were selling a whole wheel of Stilton for £2 instead of £22 I did pick up a few small slabs at less the 10p each but I'm still thinking that was a bargain and I could have used it
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • Denando
    • By Denando 17th Oct 16, 12:32 PM
    • 98 Posts
    • 99 Thanks
    Denando
    I never actually budget or meal plan, but I do keep a record of what I spend (on everything). This year (so far) I’ve spent just over £1000 on food/cleaning products, and that’s just for me, so I guess just over £100 each month. I rarely eat out or get takeaways and I do my shopping online at Mr. T about once a month (unless I have a decent voucher for somewhere else – just got £10 off £50 at Sbury), and top up at the local Coop if I need to (usually yogurt or oats for my breakfast).

    I do buy whatever I fancy (anything I think of gets put on my list) or store cupboard things I have run out of and make everything from scratch, including bread, but I do always check the ‘special offer’ section to see if there’s anything there for a cheap ‘treat’ (usually half price crisps or meat for the freezer). I buy butter and cheese when they’re on offer and freeze them and only ever buy a whole chicken (or 2 or 3 depending on the deal) and portion it myself.

    My main rule is that I won’t waste anything so, if I fancy chilli and make a batch and there’s no room in the freezer, I will eat chilli for days (then probably not again for months as I’m sick of it). I also try to use everything so any leftovers/bones are boiled into stock then frozen for another day and fruit that’s getting a bit ‘sad’ goes in the freezer for my next smoothie craving.

    My challenge this month (or possibly the next 3) is to live out of the freezer until it’s pretty empty (other than with bread which I will make/slice to keep it packed). I’m sure there are things at the back that I have long forgotten about!

    Thanks to the OP for asking this – I’d never actually looked at what I spent. I don’t have to skimp but I’m sure I can reduce this if I really try.
    • MrsTinks
    • By MrsTinks 17th Oct 16, 1:49 PM
    • 14,573 Posts
    • 22,043 Thanks
    MrsTinks
    I've already decided that when we return from holiday we will be going through the freezers and cupboards and listing everything!

    I'm due a cupboard challenge and that way I will have more room for christmas goodies anyway

    Doing these more often would definitely help with waste - our biggest waste is fresh food - mainly because we change plans at short notice a lot which is infuriating but a fact of our lives at the moment. I never really thought about it but come December I'll in effect have 3 jobs so I guess it's not a surprise that some days I struggle with everything??

    There is no "one size fits all" - I'd never manage to hit the supermarkets at a set time each week, I can't cook fresh every day, there isn't always time to stop at Aldi and Lidl on my way home/to collect DD. You just have to find what works for you and do the best you can or what you need to depending on your situation. Some weeks I can spend an hour a day in the kitchen, the next I'm lucky if it's 5 minutes! I actually love cooking and baking but time is precious
    DFW Nerd #025
    SPC member #561
    Sept 2016 - £10811 Oct £10166 to clear Cleared Since Sept 16:£645 6% repaid Declutter 25 items in November target: 0/25 Make £10 extra a day in November: £57/£150
    • chelseablue
    • By chelseablue 17th Oct 16, 1:56 PM
    • 1,849 Posts
    • 2,357 Thanks
    chelseablue
    Went to Aldi yesterday, got a weeks shop for £38 including a pack of nappies
    Baby Boy born May 2014

    Mortgage starting balance 26.02.16 £231,294
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 17th Oct 16, 4:12 PM
    • 6,342 Posts
    • 35,086 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    I've already decided that when we return from holiday we will be going through the freezers and cupboards and listing everything!

    I'm due a cupboard challenge and that way I will have more room for christmas goodies anyway

    Doing these more often would definitely help with waste - our biggest waste is fresh food - mainly because we change plans at short notice a lot which is infuriating but a fact of our lives at the moment. I never really thought about it but come December I'll in effect have 3 jobs so I guess it's not a surprise that some days I struggle with everything??

    There is no "one size fits all" - I'd never manage to hit the supermarkets at a set time each week, I can't cook fresh every day, there isn't always time to stop at Aldi and Lidl on my way home/to collect DD. You just have to find what works for you and do the best you can or what you need to depending on your situation. Some weeks I can spend an hour a day in the kitchen, the next I'm lucky if it's 5 minutes! I actually love cooking and baking but time is precious
    Originally posted by MrsTinks
    I'm having a "Freezer fortnight" next week and the week after Mrs T! That will also hopefully incorporate using up cupboard/larder stuff before we need to find temporary new homes for everything when the kitchen is done.
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    • katsoocam
    • By katsoocam 21st Oct 16, 10:05 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 25 Thanks
    katsoocam
    Budgeting for Mortgage
    My husband and I have been trying to save funds for our new house (just a little bit more deposit would be good!) and at the same time clear out our cupboards (less rubbish to move). Sometimes we were spending £250-350 a month on food/household supplies just for two adults which horrified my frugal Yorkshire soul when I looked into it.

    We first of all did 21 days for £21 and this helped make inroads into our freezer and cupboards. Subsequently we have been aiming for a budget of £20 a week and made the rule that every meal has to have something from the store cupboard/freezer.

    You have to bear in mind that we had ridiculous stockpiles - I'm a great believer in the bulk buy and my freezer is always crammed - but actually we have been coming in well under budget, despite the occaisional treat (my husband is drinking a beer as I type!). I have been putting the extra aside because at some point I will bulk buy some meat - our local butcher does a great lean meat box. We also get £20 in cash out and only use that money. We also have reduced the frequency of our shopping and stick very strictly to our list.

    We shop at Aldi now and I meal plan religiously. We try really hard not to waste anything - leftover bread becomes croutons or bread crumbs, the scraps of a chicken become a risotto, etc. We now always take a packed lunch. My husband will often take soup and bread. We were fortunate in that we had an awesome crop of tomatoes and runner beans this year so we have a freezer full of pasta sauce soup etc.

    This is a big change for us, but what has made it possible is that we have a target to aim for - a £1000 saving over the next six months - and I think it helps to have a goal in mind as that is an incentive. However we are eating less and eating more home cooked food from scratch which is also great.
    • curty510
    • By curty510 24th Oct 16, 11:10 AM
    • 145 Posts
    • 292 Thanks
    curty510
    wow! I need to save money on shopping after reading this thread. 4 in our household. Grown up kids 16 & 19, My OH & Me. We spend approx £60 per week in Aldi, £100 per week in sainsburys and about £15 during the week in local shop(milk, eggs etc). thats 175 per week. we are not overweight or big eaters, only have 2 meals per day at home.

    I think a list for meal plans is needed and check of what we have before we go.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

753Posts Today

5,697Users online

Martin's Twitter